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Parking Lot Law Upheld in Oklahoma

I do not agree with NRA on the parking lot issue.  I will just state that categorically.  But this is a welcome victory.  Why?

The challenge to Oklahoma’s bill presented some serious risks to gun owners, in that it was argued that the Occupational Safety and Health Act, through the Supremacy Clause of the constitution, really mandated a federal ban on firearms in the workplace, which state law could not contravene.  If this outlook had prevailed, it employers would presumably be obligated under federal law to ban firearms in the workplace.

So I am very glad this line of reasoning was shot down by the courts.  But there’s still a problem:

“We disagree,” the appellate judges wrote in a 23-page decision. “OSHA is aware of the controversy surrounding firearms in the workplace and has consciously decided not to adopt a standard” banning firearms from the workplace.

What if OSHA did adopt a standard because a certain President directed them to?  In addition to disagreeing with the NRA on principle on this issue, I also just don’t like the politics of this issue, and this is one of the reasons why.

23 Responses to “Parking Lot Law Upheld in Oklahoma”

  1. Laughingdog says:

    So, since I can’t find the answer to this in your previous posts (used “parking lot” as a search term), I’m curious about what it is about the NRA stance on the parking lot issue that you don’t like. Do you feel that employers have the right to search my car any time they want, or do you feel that the law should just clarify that my car is my property, whether it’s in my driveway or in their parking lot.

    Personally, I’m of the latter opinion. I don’t believe an employer has any right or authority to require me to allow them to search my vehicle, wherever it is parked. However, they can ban anything they want on the actual premises. If they want, they can ban cameras, cell phones, firearms, and even MP3 players on their property. But anything inside of my car isn’t on their property, it’s in mine.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Do you feel that employers have the right to search my car any time they want, or do you feel that the law should just clarify that my car is my property, whether it’s in my driveway or in their parking lot.

    They have no right to search your car. No employer will ever search my vehicle. But I can’t force my employer to continue providing me with employment if I do not wish to comply with the conditions they set out.

    I agree that what’s in your car is your business, and it’s your property. But this really isn’t a property law issue, it’s an employment law issue. What NRA is advocating is that my employer, who has a right of free association, must associate with me if I take part in an activity that’s contrary to the employment contract or conditions that were outlined to me when I agreed to take the job or agreed to continue employment with them.

  3. Mike w. says:

    “What NRA is advocating is that my employer, who has a right of free association, must associate with me if I take part in an activity that’s contrary to the employment contract or conditions that were outlined to me when I agreed to take the job or agreed to continue employment with them.”

    I have to agree with you Sebastian. The contract I signed upon my employment here at The Firm specifically included a “no weapons” clause. If I breach that contract there should be consequences. The NRA is pushing to override contract laws, and that’s not a good thing.

  4. geekWithA.45 says:

    Interesting, I’ve never seen a free association take on the matter, usually the objection is based on property rights dogma.

    Where do you draw the line on intimidation and coercion on expression of fundamental rights, given that an employer categorically holds a superior position?

    What, in your view, is the limit of the types and extents of conditions an employer may place? Might he require that I possess certain DNA sequences, for example? Say, demonstrating resistance to costly diseases, which impacts his insurance costs?

  5. Sebastian says:

    I’m willing to accept that we have laws that already do this, but they are anti-discrimination laws. I’m far less enthusiastic about the government coming in and stipulating employer/employee relations based on behaviors that can be helped. Even if a constitutional right is involved. My car might be my property, but if I worked for Wal-Mart, would I have a right to park my car in their parking lot with a sign that read “Fuck Wal-Mart!?” Free speech right?

    I will say that any employer that demands to search an employee’s vehicle is perpetrating an act that is highly disrespectful of their employees privacy, and is questionably moral behavior. I would refuse to work for any such company, and would not sign an agreement that subjects my vehicle to search. But if I did, and I got fired for refusing, that’s my problem for signing it in the first place.

  6. Sebastian says:

    What, in your view, is the limit of the types and extents of conditions an employer may place? Might he require that I possess certain DNA sequences, for example? Say, demonstrating resistance to costly diseases, which impacts his insurance costs?

    I don’t support the whole employer provided health care system we have today. Nor do I support socialized health care provided by the government. In a truly free market, I don’t think employers would provide health care.

    But whether employers have the right to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, which, much like race, are no fault of the person, I think is separate from behavioral issues. I grudgingly accept that government interference in the employment-at-will doctrine, in order to prevent discrimination, is a necessary evil. But I don’t agree with attempts to take that further than it needs to be taken.

  7. N.U.G.U.N. says:

    “But I can’t force my employer to continue providing me with employment if I do not wish to comply with the conditions they set out.”

    I disagree to a certain extent. Is it fair to fire someone for the mere fact that they live an alternative lifestyle? Or that I have provacative nude paintings in my home?

    I am of the opinion that they can let me go if I conceal carry, and they ask me not too, and I refuse. And if I have something is visible in my vehicle that might cause offense, I might see some justification. But I absolutely believe a vehicle is my private property. And that a general practice must be provided for all employees (ie: if all employees are allowed to park in the parking lot, they cannot discriminate because I might store a legal firearm nor because I have a Christian fish logo on the back of my vehicle).

    “What NRA is advocating is that my employer, who has a right of free association, must associate with me if I take part in an activity that’s contrary to the employment contract or conditions that were outlined to me when I agreed to take the job or agreed to continue employment with them.”

    Well, we have tons of areas on this issue that the government have said very much such regarding private business (be it no smoking, can’t fire someone because of their race, or sexual preference, etc).

    If you gave me a free libertarian society, I’d agree with you. But in that case such things as non-compete contracts, patents, etc. Would not exist either.

    ***

    “The contract I signed upon my employment here at The Firm specifically included a “no weapons” clause. If I breach that contract there should be consequences.”

    I disagree. I believe such contracts should not be enforceable. What if they say you cannot have a legal firearm even in your home. Granted, in a true libertarian world. That would be acceptable, I’d simply say “find yourself another worker”. But we do NOT live in a Libertarian system. And many restrictions are placed on workers and for workers.

    And I think under our present system, employment authority does not extend to my private property (home, vehicle, mind).

    ***

    Lastly, I always place individual rights above corporation and business rights.

    And my view changes on this issue in a truly Libertarian system.

  8. I’m not keen on this intrusion on rights of contract and property, but there is a certain Schadenfreude at watching liberals confronting the consequences of their own aggressive use of governmental power to protect a right that they generally abhor. And using the Pruneyard decision as precedent just adds to my joy.

    i would prefer a different approach: holding an employer civilly liable for injuries suffered by an employee as a result of being disarmed to or from work because of such a ban, and also holding the employer free of any liability for misuse or a firearm caused by allowing them in locked cars in the parking lot. If the risk is really that high (it isn’t), then they have to factor that in against the risks that the employee takes going to and from work unarmed.

  9. geekWithA.45 says:

    Hmmm….still contemplating.

    So, pre-existing conditions not of the persons choice falls under discrimination. OK. That works. We can even throw the voluntary matter of one’s religion into the mix, as this is traditionally and widely accepted as having equal protection.

    But we still haven’t articulated any principle that suggests where the line between an employer’s right to place potentially arbitrary and capricious conditions on the offer of employment and our right to engage in arbitrary and capricious behaviors, in and out of the workplace might be.

    So far, the principle seems to be “employer rights: limitless, employees can take it or leave it”.

    This might not be good enough in the grimy real world. It would seem that our society would benefit in many ways in having some articulated “bias towards liberty” in matters of individual interaction.

  10. RAH says:

    Employment conditions and policies that are unrelated to the job are wrong and really not enforceable. This employment contract is a unilateral contract and not subject to adjustment by the employee so any ambiguity ususally goes to the employee. Employment law can speak to this as unfair labor practices.

    If I drive a comapany car then my driving record is related and can be checked. I agreed as a condition not to carry a weapon in the car since I am an agent of th employer in their car. I did this for 30 years even though I was allowed to use the car for personal use and trips. That is reasonable. If I am driving my own car, what I have in my car is no business of my employer whether it is a bible or a gun.

    Employment contracts that try to interfere in the personal property of an employee are wrong and should be leglislated.

    The employer gets a license to operate in the state and this can be a condition of operating a business in the state. If the business feels it is undue interference then they can relocate to another state. Same as the argument that an employee can leave to another employer.

  11. Jake says:

    The problem with the “if I don’t agree with the company policy, I can always not work for that company” argument is that it’s not always true.

    Imagine you have 50 or 100 resumes and applications out, no money, and one job offer. What are you going to do? You’re going to take the only job you can get, regardless of any restrictions imposed by the employer.

    The employer holds all the power in this kind of situation. Now the employer says “you can’t have a firearm in your car on company property.” This automatically means that you can’t have a gun anywhere between home and work as well. What if you live in or have to pass through a high crime area to get to and from work? We’ve already established that you don’t have any money, so moving is not an option. What if you have an ex who has threatened you, or a stalker?

    Even if the company has airtight security, it won’t extend off their property. You are still vulnerable when going from your home to your car, and anywhere in between home and work when the car is not moving. The company has disarmed you there as well, and they have done so by force. THAT is what they cannot be allowed to do.

  12. Tom says:

    “through the Supremacy Clause of the constitution,”

    Funny that it would apply in BANS, but not to the second amdt that states clearly, SNBI. The law means what they want it to mean in an arbitrary fashion.

  13. TCK says:

    “Even if the company has airtight security, it won’t extend off their property. You are still vulnerable when going from your home to your car, and anywhere in between home and work when the car is not moving. The company has disarmed you there as well, and they have done so by force. THAT is what they cannot be allowed to do.”

    Thus the reason I am adamantly in favor of specifically measures being taken to ensure employers cannot dictate what employees keep in their cars. Last time I checked, driving onto a parking lot wasn’t a de facto transfer of ownership of your vehical, so I am rather confused by what rationale people justify the ‘property rights’ argument that employers can arbitrarly declare what is ‘allowed’ in a car.

  14. Jake says:

    “I am rather confused by what rationale people justify the ‘property rights’ argument that employers can arbitrarly declare what is ‘allowed’ in a car.”

    Just to play devil’s advocate:
    I think the reasoning behind that is that the company (or, to remove the “companies don’t have the same rights as people” argument, the person who owns the company – and therefore the company’s property) does have the right to say what is and is not allowed on the owner’s property, and you are moving the car – and everything in it – onto someone else’s property. Because you are the “active” party in this, the burden is on you to not violate the owner’s property rights.

    I would not disagree with this, except that as I pointed out:
    (a) this also restricts your rights when you are off of company property; and (more importantly)
    (b) a person’s place of employment is not always voluntary.

    If everybody could choose where they work, (a) would be irrelevant (you could always choose to work for someone who didn’t prohibit guns on their property), and there would be no reason for this law to exist.

  15. mons meg says:

    The way I look at it, this is a simple case of competing interests. One is the employer’s interest in controlling activity on their property, and the other is an individual’s interest in privacy (in their own car) and self defense.

    The State of Oklahoma drew a line, so that everyone would know which interest was *most* compelling, under a very limited set of circumstances. NRA supported our law, but they didn’t write it. It is not the job of a leftist federal district judge to overrule the elected Legislature in a matter of criminal law.

  16. geekWithA.45 says:

    Mons Meg: I think you have a coherent explanation of the current circumstance.

    The problem is that we still haven’t articulated any actionable axiom upon which to base how that line should be drawn, other than through a majoritarian exercise of legislative action.

    We don’t even have a yardstick to measure the results of such legislative act, other than it happens to please us in this case.

    As we’ve seen, majoritarian democracy isn’t all that great a guardian of personal prerogatives, and our half dead zombie Republic isn’t all that much better, and that’s when we *can* articulate some underlying axiomatic basis.

    Sheesh. I thoroughly sympathize with Jefferson when he had to punt with “self evident”.

  17. Snorlax says:

    This is a victory for Americans?

    Tell that to the six Kentucky employees who were shot by a disgruntled co-worker.

    After he got his gun out of his car in the parking lot.

    Kentucky has this stupid law.

    The NRA is going to get people killed with this stupid law.

    Why does the NRA hate property rights?

    The NRA must be a bunch of Commies if they hate property rights.

  18. Sebastian says:

    As I’ve said, I disagree with NRA on this matter, but not because people with permits to carry are inherently dangerous to the workplace. Do you think the guy in Kentucky gave a damn that his employer probably banned guns in the workplace? Do you really think mass killers weigh HR policy before making their decision? Get real.

  19. Snorlax says:

    I’m a property owner and I’m outraged at this NRA grab at my property rights.

    Funny how the NRA complains about gun grabbers, but they have no problem grabbing your property rights.

    I would recommend to any business property owner in the 10 moron states that have this law should CLOSE THEIR EMPLOYEE PARKING LOT and make them all park in the street. And if the employees complain, tell them it is the NRA that caused it and tell them to complain to the NRA.

  20. Snorlax says:

    Sebastian, YOU get real.

    This is a PROPERTY GRAB. By the NRA of all people.

    Yes, a whacko isn’t going to obey a ban on guns in the employee parking lot. But the employee can search his car in the parking lot and catch him.

    And if you think anybody carrying a concealed gun permit isn’t a problem, you’re delusional. They’re handing those out like candy to anybody with a clean background check and a gun class. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these supposed “good guys” goes on a rampage soon…particularly if he gets laid off.

    Why do you hate my property rights, Sebastian?

    Are you a Communist??

  21. Sebastian says:

    I don’t really see it as a property rights issue so much as a free association issue. An employer has no inherent right to search an employees vehicle, but it does have the right to fire employees who refuse.

    As I’ve stated, quite often, I think the NRA is wrong to interfere with the employment-at-will doctrine, which I think preserves free association, for this particular purpose. But I don’t think it does anything to make employees less safe.

    Also, the incident that got this whole ball rolling was disgusting. You can read about it here. I stand by the employers right to do this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to suggest they were being assholes.

    Anyone who is going to shoot up his workplace isn’t going to care about the law, or care about HR policy. They have already made the decision to commit murder. The only thing you do by taking guns out of the workplace is make people easy victims for mass killers.

  22. Sebastian says:

    Snorlax, does your employer routinely search your vehicle? If so, I’d hate to work for the company you work for. In fact, I wouldn’t work for a company that had such casual disregard for my privacy.

  23. Sebastian says:

    And if you think anybody carrying a concealed gun permit isn’t a problem, you’re delusional. They’re handing those out like candy to anybody with a clean background check and a gun class. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these supposed “good guys” goes on a rampage soon…particularly if he gets laid off.

    Three million people have concealed carry permits, and they commit crimes at a rate lower than that of police officers. It’s a remarkably law abiding demographic. Which makes sense, since you have to pass a background check to get one.

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